The digital experience platform (DXP) — what it is, why you need it, and how to get started
Whether it’s marketing, sales, or customer service, almost every area of business operations is now data-driven. However, simply acquiring data isn’t enough — you need to understand what the data means and use it to make more informed decisions.
The growing focus on personalized, data-driven processes has led to the proliferation of digital experience platforms (DXPs). DXPs enable teams to get more from their data and extract the most valuable insights to help the decision-making process.
This post will cover:
- What a digital experience platform is
- The benefits of using a DXP
- How DXPs differ from older data systems
- How a DXP works
- When to consider a DXP
- How to choose a DXP
What is a digital experience platform (DXP)?
A digital experience platform (DXP) is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery, and optimization of contextualized digital experiences. A DXP can be a single product or a software suite with multiple integrated applications.
A digital experience platform collects and organizes customer data to generate real value from the data you gather. One critical feature involves standardizing data from different sources so that it can be used in different departments throughout your organization.
For example, let’s say you get a customer’s name and email address at sign-up, and then their phone number later on. A DXP will consolidate that information in a single customer profile and make the profile available to your sales, marketing, and customer service teams.
The benefits of using a DXP
DXPs consolidate features that have traditionally been spread across disparate applications. They generally offer the web content features you would expect from a content management system (CMS), but also connect those tools to various other functions. This helps reduce organizational friction and make your processes more efficient.
Key benefits include:
- Improved customer experience. A DXP can help your website load more quickly for visitors. If it includes or integrates with a content delivery network (CDN), you’ll be able to deliver content from a nearby server with no need for a separate application.
- Streamlined analytics. DXPs make it easier for marketers to interpret and utilize their analytics data. Rather than transferring data between different platforms for comparison, you can see all relevant information within a unified service.
- Easier headless architectures. DXPs can facilitate headless and hybrid site architectures and reduce the amount of work that the user’s device has to do to load a particular page. This is just one more way a strong DXP can help optimize your website’s performance.
How DXPs differ from older data systems
DXPs grew out of earlier tools such as portals and content management systems, but they offer a variety of additional features compared to their traditional counterparts.
The functionality of a modern DXP is largely determined by the kind of software it originated from. A CMS-heritage DXP, for example, will offer a different set of features than a portal-heritage or commerce-heritage DXP.
DXPs from one category often add features from the others to become more versatile. Still, there are significant differences between different kinds of DXPs. For example, most commerce-heritage DXPs have strong sales tools but generally fall short when it comes to managing relationships with existing customers.
How a DXP works
At a minimum, most DXPs:
- Pull customer data from multiple sources.
- Filter data using governance and privacy protection standards.
- Organize and format customer information into unified customer profiles.
- Analyze data so that it can be used effectively.
Demand for DXPs grew in response to the limitations of earlier systems. Modern consumers want a seamless brand experience, and DXPs have evolved to meet those expectations.
DXPs often come with various modules that are all connected to the same underlying system. For example, a single digital experience platform may include connected modules for partner relationship management, content management, customer service, B2B commerce, and external apps and portals.
Most platforms include the functions listed above, and some DXPs offer even more wide-ranging features including:
- Customer relationship management
- Search and navigation
If any of these areas are causing problems for your team, it may be time to implement a new DXP. In the next section, we’ll explain how to recognize the need for a DXP and identify the best platform for your organization.
When to consider a DXP
Adopting a DXP is a major business decision, and it can be hard to tell whether it’s worth the investment. While the transition can be complex and time-consuming, the long-term benefits of a strong DXP usually outweigh any short-term disruptions.
Organizations typically make the switch when they’re falling short in one of two areas — content or data.
- Content is a key element of the modern customer experience with respect to marketing, sales, and even customer service. Content management systems and other traditional platforms may not offer the functionality you need to optimize your content practices.
- Data should now be involved in the decision-making process in every department. If your teams still aren’t integrating data into strategies and tactics, it’s usually because you aren’t collecting the data you need or your data platform can’t process it in a way that’s helpful for your team.
A digital experience platform will be particularly advantageous in the second case. Far too many companies gather important data without fully unlocking its value. With so many data sources feeding into your organization, you need a unified DXP that can centralize the information and help you apply it in the right situations.
Solving business problems with DXPs
At this point, consider whether you have any business problems that could be solved by a reliable DXP.
For example, you might have worthwhile blog and social media content, but it’s failing to generate the results you’re looking for. Maybe your bounce rate is too high or your emails aren’t being opened by enough subscribers. That’s a clear sign you’re having trouble delivering the right content to the right people. In that case, it’s time to consider whether a DXP could help improve your content strategy.
Mobile device usage is one of several trends driving DXP adoption. More people are using the internet on smartphones and tablets than ever before. In fact, Statista reports that roughly 60% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. A good DXP can gather mobile customer data across every channel and help your team deliver the best customer experience at every touchpoint.
Many organizations also use DXPs to streamline the process of managing content across different channels. From email and blog content to various social media channels, most companies are now publishing content on a long list of different platforms. If multichannel content management is the reason for adopting a DXP, it’s a good idea to look for a service with a strong focus on content.
Understanding your needs is the first step toward getting started with a DXP. Once you have a grasp on the issues you’re trying to solve for, you’re better able to get other stakeholders on board and start searching for a platform that provides the tools you’re looking for.
How to choose a DXP
Even after identifying the need for a DXP, you won’t be able to implement one overnight. In this section, we’ll explain how to identify the right DXP for your needs and get it up and running within your organization.
- It’s critical to frame your search for a new DXP in terms of the problems you want to solve. Every provider has a sales pitch, but you need to cut through the noise and find the platform that best suits your use case.
- Narrow down your options to a short list based on the type of DXP you need and a quick review of user feedback. Your list could be anywhere from three to seven providers.
- Start talking with sales reps to get an idea of how each solution will be able to meet your needs. A clear list of pain points will help guide the conversation and give you criteria to compare each option.
- Eliminate options to cut your list down to two or three of the best. Bring those options to stakeholders across the organization to get input from every department. A single individual may not fully understand the needs of all the teams that will be impacted.
With a strategically narrowed list and input from key team members, choosing the best DXP for your company becomes a much simpler process.
Explore your DXP options
Finding the right DXP for your company can be a complex endeavor. In part because businesses have more options than ever before, from content-heritage DXPs to DXPs that come from portals or commerce services. No matter what you’re looking for, you should be able to find a provider that meets your needs and budget.
Adobe Experience Cloud is an all-in-one DXP solution that covers everything from content management and personalization to onboarding and B2B marketing tools. Schedule a demo to see what Experience Cloud can do for your business.